A Cup O’ Kindness

Lanier’s note: I met Brian Brown back in October at Hutchmoot–which is one of the few places on earth, I imagine, where you find yourself talking about incarnational theology and Prohibition-throwback speakeasys in one conversation. We’re honored to to feature a couple of his famous festive libations today!

Last Saturday, my family threw its annual Christmas party. All things considered, we’d rather have observed Advent and saved the burst of joy for one of the twelve magical days of Christmas–but so many people travel for the holidays and so many others go into hibernation that we’ve found this doesn’t work well. So, knowing full well we were competing with many other Christmas parties, we decked out the house, baked for two days, started some mulled wine in the crock pot (you can just put those ingredients in on high and forget about it for an hour!), and printed out lots of Christmas carol lyrics. I also got to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes this time of year: holiday cocktails. These are two winners that have been extremely popular with our guests (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen just works better with one of these in your hand!). I hope you get a chance to enjoy them!

VERMONT OLD-FASHIONED

(A slight twist on a recipe from Bart Gingerich.)

Ingredients:

2 oz bourbon (anything good works; I used Axe and the Oak and moved on to Old Forrester when it ran out)
Maple syrup (a brief pour; 1 tsp or so if you must measure)
2 dashes cardamom bitters (I like Scrappy’s)
Granny smith apple
Cinnamon sticks

Directions:

Stir first three ingredients in an old-fashioned glass with ice.

Garnish with a thin granny smith apple slice and a cinnamon stick. (I used a meat thermometer to carefully poke a hole in the slice near the center close to the skin, then inserted the cinnamon stick about 1/3 through–very pretty and a nice wow factor.)

HOLIDAY SPICED MANHATTAN

Infused Vermouth (prepare beforehand):

2 cups sweet vermouth – Dolin works perfectly
1 tsp allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole cloves
1 dash cayenne pepper
1 dash sea salt

Manhattan:

2.5 oz cognac
.75 oz infused vermouth
Dash of angostura bitters
Twist of orange
Sprinkle of fresh nutmeg

Directions:

To Infuse the vermouth: Heat vermouth to just before boiling on the stove. Add all dry ingredients. Turn off heat, cover with lid and let steep for several hours. Pour through sifter into empty container.

For each drink: Stir first three ingredients in a glass or cocktail shaker for 30 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass; add a twist of orange and a sprinkle of nutmeg on top. For added flair, flame the orange twist.

**

In between mixing cocktails, Brian Brown serves as the director of the Anselm Society and editor of its publication Humane Pursuits.

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